Friday, April 5, 2013

The History of Britannia...

From Wikipedia:
In Ultima, the player takes the role of the Avatar, who embodies eight virtues. First introduced in Ultima IV, the Three Principles and the Eight Virtues marked a reinvention of the game focus from a traditional role-playing model into an ethically framed one.

Ultima was one of my first experiences with computer games. I am a big fan of the series if you cannot figure it out by my use of the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom as my profile picture. When I heard Lord British ( +Richard Garriott de Cayeux ) was trying to Kickstart a spiritual successor to the Ultima series, I was beyond what you would call excited.

From the Shroud of the Avatar Kickstarter page:
Shroud of the Avatar is the “spiritual successor” to Richard’s previous work in the FRP genre. Our primary objectives are to tell a story even more compelling than Ultimas IV-VII, create a virtual world more interactive than Ultima VII, develop deep rich multi-player capabilities beyond combat akin to Ultima Online, and offer a bold new approach to integrate them with “Selective Multi-Player”.
If you like old fashion single player RPGs like Ultima or MMORPGs like Ultima Online, you should go pledge on this game. With 60 hours to go and fully funded this Kickstarter campaign includes stretch goals including a serialized SOTA prequel novel by +Tracy Hickman. If you don't pledge before the end of the Kickstarter you could loose out on some of the loot-eriffic rewards like exclusive pets, item, houses and more. GO PLEDGE NOW!

Ultima was a great influence in my life and took up a good part of my childhood. I was never known for the best in the ways of long term memory, but as I remember it I was given a Commodore 64 after moving to a new state when I was young. This was soon followed by a visit to one of my Dad's coworkers with a bunch, and I mean a bunch, of blank 5.25 floppies. A couple of those disks came back with Ultima II and Ultima III. There not many places for buy software or games where I lived back then, nor the internet for that matter, and large department stores were usually your only chance at scoring anything; if you actually wanted Math Blaster or Word Processing programs. I would be well into my teens before an Electronics Boutique opened at the local mall, and on my first visit where I "bought" my first game: Ultima IV.

I give Ultima credit for saving my life, and on more than one occassion. As a young, nerdy kid, back in the days before it was cool, and bullying was just "boys being boys" and ignored by most adults, I contemplated suicide quite often. Thankfully those thoughts were always fleeting because there was NO WAY I wanted to miss playing the next Ultima!. Good thing I was able to go to an art school to escape the bullies and get some solid, real friends long before EA bought out Origin and killed the series.

In addition, running computer games like Ultima on a PC in the early days required a lot more than they do now. A little bit of knowledge and config file/boot disk magic was needed to squeeze memory enough to run them. Sometimes you would need to choose between "optional" things like using a mouse or having sound. This would eventual lead me into the IT industry and allowed me to support my family. Just another way Ultima saved my life.

Always incredibly shy with very low self esteem, my computer skills did not help much when trying to get out of dead-end jobs. However, after helping my father install his new modem and setup Prodigy I found a wonder thing:  the Ultima Dragons. I joined the group immediately and ran out to get my own modem and Prodigy account. This community was the first time I could share my love of computers and games with other people that understood. In my day I knew very few people that had a computer. Using a computer for school work was considered cheating, and I got a lot of zeros for using a computer to complete assignments. The Ultima Dragons connected me to people that shared my rare hobby, and bred in me confidence as well as the valor to speak up for myself. Even today I feel their touch on me, and is the last way Ultima saved my life.

Because of this I have pledged on Shroud of the Avatar. Richard Garriott's games have been a great inspiration to me and  responsible for any success I have to this day. I know he gets a lot of heat for the lack of quality in the EA Ultima games (U8 and U9) and the problems surrounding Tabula Rasa, but his vision for this new game is brilliant. The ability for developers to reach directly out to their players and avoid the influence of big publishers can definitely be seen in the outreach shown by his new company Portalarium during the Kickstarter. I urge you to, quickly, check out Shroud of the Avatar and pledge. Who knows? With 5 games in the series maybe this will have the chance to save others' lives as well.

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